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Opinion: More proof of e-voting trouble (cue crickets)

GAO report a reminder that EAC has failed entirely, says Brad Friedman

By Brad Friedman
March 8, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Here we go again: Yet another confirmation by the non-partisan GAO on Wednesday, in yet another a sure-to-be-ignored report, that our electronic voting systems across the country are a hellish patchwork of un-overseen technological mayhem and disaster. This latest is entitled "ELECTIONS: All Levels of Government Are Needed to Address Electronic Voting System Challenges" (PDF format).
 
But what are the chances that anyone in the mainstream media is paying attention?

The report was released yesterday along with testimony given by Randolph C. Hite, the GAO Information Technology Architecture and Systems Director, at a hearing on "Ensuring the Integrity of Elections" in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government this afternoon.

Among the folks on the hot seat at the hearing was U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) chair Donetta Davidson, of whom we at Brad Blog been more than critical on a number of issues, including her failure to release information to the public (or even to elections officials) concerning the disastrous state of the federally approved CIBER test lab.

That lab was one of three private companies which secretly test all American voting systems at the federally level, until they secretly failed to receive accreditation last year from the EAC. The three made up the "Independent Testing Authority" --- all of which are paid for by the Voting Machine Companies themselves.

CIBER had signed off on nearly 70 percent of the electronic voting systems used last November. Despite the discovery of those serious problems at the lab by Davidson's EAC last July, it wasn't until a front-page story in the New York Times in January of this year that anybody learned about the mess. Instead, the EAC inexcusably allowed America to vote on those systems last November with no warning -- even to elections officials -- that there were known problems.

The secret EAC reports -- yes, more secrecy -- revealed the sloppy, incomplete and frequently non-existent "testing" performed by CIBER. The testing process (such as it is) is now documented online, if you've got the tech-stomach for them.

But more on Davidson and the remarkable, documented failures of the EAC in a later detailed investigative report which we've been working on for many weeks. For now, Hite's 56-page report, released Wednesday, summarizes many of the GAO's excellent, recent, and all-but ignored reports on voting systems from over the past year or two.

Utter HAVA disarray -- documented

The report covers the lack of security and reliability standards and testing for all electronic voting systems across the country at the federal, state and local levels. It reveals a system of democracy in utter disarray in the wake of the ill-conceived and ill-administered Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 and the technological nightmare now facing voting jurisdictions across the United States.



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